We all have those words we struggle to pronounce correctly (for me it is the words conscious and conscience). Many of us have just learned to avoid the words that give us trouble. But for some speakers, there may be several trouble words because of a speech disorder.
Guest blogger Ben Allen gives several great suggestions about how to be a confident speaker with a speech disorder at the Six Minutes blog. Because he shares from personal experience, this would be a great article to share with students who are concerned that their manner of speaking may interfere with their message.
And I always share the advice from Randy Fujishin: Audiences will forgive many mistakes when they sense a genuine desire to communicate with them — and you can do that.
One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
– Arthur Ashe
Public speaking coach and trainer Carol Andrew offers delivery and movement advice at the Fripp & Associates blog drawn from her ballet experience.
What I like about this advice is that it offers students several things they can do as warm-up activities before their speech to ease the initial nervousness and free up their movements during the speech.
Mikael Cho, co-founder of ooomf, gives a great summary of the science of speech anxiety. He briefly covers why speech anxiety occurs, what makes it worse, a plan to decrease it, and added tips about dealing with “ums” in a speech.
The entire post would be a good supplementary reading for students or as a suggested reading for students expressing concern about speech anxiety.
His simple presentation outline format or his suggestion about “chunking” to avoid “ums” could be developed into classroom activities.
This post from Chloe Gray at The Daily Muse contains some non-traditional advice about dealing with severe stage fright, including links to two videos that the author found helpful. One video focuses on charisma and the other on using body language as a speaker.
Gray also shares her personal experience about how she improved from what she described as “debilitating” speech anxiety.
Her story, as well as her advice, would be great to share with students who fear their anxiety will not improve. In addition, you may find the videos (or portions of them) useful to share in class or at your web site.
Michael Hyatt offers some great advice in this brief article to those who struggle with a fear of public speaking — shift your focus. This would be a nice resource to share with students to show that 1) professional speakers do still struggle with stage fright; and 2) the key is to focus on the message, not yourself.
Four Hour Work Week author Tim Ferriss gives some irreverent but on-point advice about preparing for public speaking opportunities. This link might be helpful to nervous students or those who question how professionals do public speaking. Note that there is some implied foul language and references to drinking alcohol in the post.
Bryan Kelly of whatthespeak.com has compiled a list of six psychological secrets of how audience members view a speaker and how these can help a speaker better prepare for their audience. Each “secret” links to additional research, which would be a great resource to provide nervous or skeptical students or to provide additional examples to use in class.
A recent study has supported the good news we’ve been telling our students about speech anxiety. A study published in the April 2013 journal Clinical Psychological Science found that speakers who were coached to believe that signs of stress are natural and helpful before delivering a speech were then able to complete a stressful task after giving their speech with fewer stress signals than those who were not coached.
This would be a great example to present to students or to offer as additional reading to nervous or skeptical students.
Pass out quarter sheets of notebook paper and ask the students to list one thing they learned today that they think may help them deal with their speech anxiety. This helps give me an idea of where to focus the lecture in upcoming classes.
Minute papers are meant to be anonymous, although I invite students to put their names on the paper if they would like a personal e-mail response.